I typed the last line of the report just as the clock on the corner of my laptop changed to 5pm. I saved the document and sent it through to Tobias via email. He walked out of his office five or so minutes later, just as I was closing everything down. He walked over to my desk and sat on the corner of it.
“That report looks great. It’ll really come in handy for tomorrow’s meeting.”
“Good. I’m glad.” I murmured as I picked my hand bag off the floor.
“Shall we go?” He said as I stood up.
I looked at him and smiled, he had meant it. His offer of dinner hadn’t been a spur of the moment post sex thing. I nodded and slung my purse over my shoulder. “We shall.”
I followed him from the office and into the elevator. So far I had been lucky, Tobias and I hadn’t run into the gossip mongers from the second floor together, I’d only ever seen them alone. My luck was at an end though, because the elevator stopped on the second floor. The doors opened and on the other side stood the girls who’d been in the elevator that morning. They eyeballed Tobias, and then me, before whispering at a level I was unable to hear. The elevator stopped at the ground floor level and all of the girls spilled out. They turned, looking back into the elevator. I ignored the raised eyebrows and looked away. The doors closed and Tobias sighed audibly.
“Lovely.” he said dryly.
“Excuse me?” I whispered.
“As a boy I mastered the art of eavesdropping.” he said with a strained voice. “It was sometimes a curse more than a blessing.”
My stomach rolled, I knew what those girls were capable of saying… The doors opened in the parking garage and Tobias stalked out.
“What did they say?” I asked as i stepped out of the elevator.
“It doesn’t matter.” He replied.
“Actually it does.” I replied as i planted my feet to the floor. “I’ve had to listen to their stupid theories in that damn elevator far too much recently. I’d like to know what they said.”
“So this happens often does it?” he stopped and turned to look at me. “Maybe I should have a chat with them.” his eyes were dark. He walked toward me, stopping an inch or so from touching me.
“They’re not worth it. It’s gossip.” I replied.
“They said that you must give good head to still be my PA.” he exclaimed. “And they laughed about the fact you thought you got the job on merit.”
Perhaps Tobias expected me to be hurt or angry. But the truth was, there was no love lost between me and the girls on the second floor and I had known right away that my appointment as PA had more to do with everyone else’s perception of Tobias than it did with my skills. But I was good at what I did, and despite recent developments, I was more than apt to be his PA on merit alone.
“Do I?” I smiled.
“Huh?” Tobias frowned and shook his head.
“Give good head.” I struggled to keep my face straight.
Tobias grinned, seemingly relieved I wasn’t hurt. He nodded and looked around the parking garage. “The best.”
We walked over to his car and hopped in. he started it and began to drive out. We were a few minutes down the road before he spoke again.
“I’m sorry.” he murmured.
“Being associated with me, even just as my PA… means people feel they have the right to say shit like that.” He was still angry, I could hear it in his voice.
“Tobias. They don’t know me.” I replied. “And they don’t know you. Everything they say is gossip or make believe.”
“I’m still sorry my reputation affects you.”
I frowned and looked out the window. Perhaps Tobias had orchestrated his reputation as a way to ward people off. But I had seen through it, just like I saw through the things others said. Being around him, especially now he had let me in, even just a little meant more than the words of people who didn’t know him.
When we arrived at his apartment we rode in silence up the elevator. Tobias unlocked his apartment door and we walked inside. The moment he had closed the door he throw his keys and jacket at his bench top before turning and engulfing me in his arms. I dropped my bag on the ground, too caught up in him to focus on holding it. His mouth claimed mine, and all that mattered was him and I being in this moment. Our tongues danced, and our hands wandered. His moved up my body, over my curves before stopping at the base of my neck. He pulled back and let out a strangled sigh.
“I don’t know what’s happening to me.” he mumbled.
His eyes were dark and it was clear something was bothering him. I placed my hand on his cheek and leaned forward to kiss him on the forehead. “Are you okay?”
He looked up at me his eyes lightened considerably as he smiled and nodded. “When you’re here?” he murmured. “Yes.”
He kissed me again before I could reply to say I felt the same.
We made it to the sofa, kissing the entire way. Like teenagers we made out, kissing until our lips were raw and a deepened shade of pink. After a few minute Tobias ruefully pulled back.
“I should start dinner.”
“You cook?” I smiled, amused.
“I didn’t go out much as a teenager.” He replied. “I had lots of free time. Josanna taught me.”
Tobias stood up, but leaned down and kissed me on the forehead before walking into his kitchen. I watched him in awe, it may have only been a slither, but he’d let me in on part of his past. I wanted to know more, to know it all. I wanted to know everything there was to know about Tobias Clarke, but right now I’d settle for the slither.
I sat up and pursed my lips. “Can I help?” I asked softly. Tobias looked over at me and shook his head. He opened the fridge and took out a bottle of wine.
“You run around after me all day, let me do something for you.” He smiled, pouring a glass of wine.
“Are you trying to seduce me.” I grinned. “Because I’m pretty sure we’ve already passed that point.”
Tobias walked back into the living room and handed the glass to me. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.” he replied unapologetically. “I just know I like being around you.”
“Me too.” I smiled. “Thank you for the wine.”
I watched him cook, and aside from the odd glance in my direction he was completely focused on the task. The apartment filled with a delicious aroma, which caused my stomach to growl in hunger. I finished my glass of wine and stood up, walking into the kitchen with the empty glass. Tobias took it from me, refilling it. He handed it back, kissing me as he did so.
“Dinner’s almost ready.” He said turning back to the stove.
“It smells delicious.”
“Hopefully it tastes delicious too.” He chuckled.
I walked back into the living room and sat down.
“I’m sure it will.”
Tobias didn’t talk for a while, in fact it wasn’t until he walked into the living room and placed a plate full of food down on the coffee table that he said anything.
“You know the fact you give great head isn’t the reason you’re still my PA right?” He exclaimed nervously. I frowned and looked up at him. To see him so worried and unsure was uncharacteristic. I shook my head and narrowed my eyes.
“Tobias, I don’t care what those girls think. They’re nothing to me.”
“If you didn’t care, then would you have been so angry with me this morning?” he replied.
He was right, I had let them get to me. I had listened to their words, and it had made me question the very real experience Tobias and I had shared. I had let them tarnish it.
“Eat up.” He whispered.
I looked at the food in front of me and picked up the plate. He’d cooked chicken cacciatore, and it looked amazing. He hadn’t been kidding about his skills in the kitchen. It was almost like I’d been given a 5 star chef, restaurant plated meal. I picked up my fork and took a bite. It was hot, but not unbearable. My tastebuds were alive with flavor.
“This is amazing.” I murmured, looking over at Tobias who was sitting across from me with his own plate. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure.” He smiled.
I ate a few more mouthfuls before sighing.
“You’re right. I did care...This morning in the elevator they were making fun of the girl who you’d taken to the ball. Me. Laughing at how hard she made you work for a one night stand. That accompanied with the girls at the ball… I felt stupid.” I placed my fork down and looked at Tobias, who was focusing on me. “But after we talked in your office… I guess it didn’t matter so much to me anymore.
“Talked.” Tobias murmured, he smiled and tilted his head. “It was just the talking that changed how you feel?”
“About their incessant gossip?” I questioned. “Yes. Because they don’t know you… or me. What we do, separately or together has nothing to do with them.”
“I’ve never met anyone like you before Ruby.” Tobias said as he placed his empty plate down on the table.
“That’s a good thing I hope?” I replied.
“Depends how you look at it I suppose.” He said sadly, looking away from me. “I mean, those girls… despite not knowing me, are right about my reputation.”
I frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I’ve never had a girlfriend.” He said. “Ever.”
“I’ve had two boyfriends, although one of them was in fifth grade, so I’m not sure you can count that. Point is, that doesn’t define my reputation, or the person I truly am.”
Tobias stood up and collected the empty plates. He took them into the kitchen and placed them in the dishwasher. He sighed so loud I heard it from across the room.
“I’ve never had a girlfriend, but I’ve had more trysts than I care to admit.”
I frowned, for a reason I wasn’t yet ready to face my heart twinged at the admittance of him being with many other women. I nodded and looked out toward the balcony. For a man who didn’t get emotionally invested, who only slept with women once… it didn’t compute with what was happening between us.
“Why?” I asked softly. “Why have you never had a girlfriend?”
Tobias walked back into the lounge and sat down beside me, our faces aligned and our eyes connected. He wasn’t smiling, and I wondered if I’d crossed some kind of invisible line.
He placed his hand in mine and shrugged. “Why does the lion roar?”
“To scare his prey.” I replied.
Tobias shook his head and enveloped his hand around mine. “No, they do it to show they own that territory. That they’re the ferocious boss and you’d best not cross him.”
“So you’re the lion in this little analogy right?” I scoffed and shook my head. Tobias looked annoyed, his hand pulled back from mine a little, but I caught it and pulled it back. “I’m sorry but I don’t buy it Tobias. You’re saying the reason you’ve never had a girlfriend is because you’re an asshole to most people.”
“It’s the truth.” He muttered.
“Is it?” I laughed. “Because it sounds like women would do just about anything to bed you… and be the one that… for lack of a better word... Tames you.”
“I’m the territory.” He exclaimed exasperated. “I’ve never had a girlfriend, because I can’t share my territory.”
I tilted my head, like it was going to help me to understand better, but it didn’t.
“I’m confused.” I replied.
Tobias shook his head and leaned in to kiss me. “Forget I said anything.” He said sharply.
His eyes darkened and he pulled his hand from mine. “We should get you home.” He continued.
“Oh, uh of course. Thank you for dinner.” I whispered. I tried to snuffle out the questions forming inside me. Questions about Tobias, but also my growing feelings for the man who seemed to repel feelings. I stood up and walked over to the balcony door. Keen to catch a glimpse of the setting sun over the city. It was beautiful, the hues of orange, red green and blue acted as a beautiful backdrop for the city that was in silhouette all around. I waited for a minute or so, until the sun dipped below the horizon, disappearing from sight. It had been a majestic sunset, but it was over far too soon. I felt Tobias step behind me, his fingertips ran down down my arms until his fingers weaved with mine. His lips pressed against the curve of my neck and he pulled me in closer until I could feel his body press against me.
“You’re a siren.” He whispered. “I know I should look away, I know I should avoid whatever this is… but I can’t.”
I frowned, in Greek mythology a siren’s purpose was to trick its prey in order to cause some type of physical harm. The last thing I wanted was to hurt Tobias, and I wasn’t trying to trick him. I closed my eyes, and did my best to silently assure myself that I was reading too much into what he had said.
“We both know where this is going to lead Tobias.” I whispered. “Question is, do you want it too?”
I knew I had asked a question with a double meaning, and it was for myself just as much as it was for him. My mind was telling me to leave now, before I let myself get anymore invested. But my heart couldn’t see the logic… Being here with him felt better than anything had in a long long time. I couldn’t turn away from that…
“I want you.” Tobias murmured. He didn’t give me more than that, and I knew for one reason or another, that was as much as I was ever bound to get.